Tag Archive for: mitigate legal trucking liability


After a very informative webinar this week, we’ve decided to dive deeper into your strategic reopening. In case you missed the meeting, check it out here.

We spoke with Attorney Monica Narvaez about all the things employers should consider as employees return to work. While all her suggestions were thought-provoking, some were downright surprising.

Our expert advisory board has developed a checklist for Strategic Reopening. Use the checklist to determine which of these issues could be a potential threat or opportunity for your business and plan accordingly.

Here’s a breakdown and explanation of some things to consider while planning your reopening strategy.

CDC Flowchart

Download the CDC flowchart to determine if opening is an option for your business, school, or public space. This document asks yes or no questions to help you decide if reopening too soon will put your customers or employees at risk of infection.

OSHA Requirements

Research Osha requirements to determine your responsibilities in reopening. You are now liable for the health of your employees regarding COVID-19. Research your states employer requirements in sanitization, documentation, monitoring, and response planning.

OSHA Requirements

Develop a Reopening Playbook

Have a plan in place before issues arise. Impromptu response can lead to emotional decisions.

Include Communication Plan – What information and how often will you communicate with your employees? The goal is to eliminate fear and doubt they may feel as not to hinder their work performance.

Determine Reassignment Structure – Does your business need to maintain its previous staffing structure? Many companies have focused on productivity and efficiency. In streamlining, they realized the cost-cutting potential of downsizing.

Identify Unemployment Triggers – If you do decide to reduce your workforce, check the Fair Labor Standards Act’s Fact Sheet regarding furloughed employees and pay reductions.

Work from Home Options – WFH options have the potential to drastically reduce your overhead costs. If employees are still as acceptably productive, it is worth looking at remote workstations as a permanent solution.

Develop a Reopening Playbook

Health and Safety Considerations

Sanitization Plan – Before the mass return of employees, it is recommended to sanitize all office equipment, surfaces, floors, and bathrooms to limit the spread of germs.

PPE Requirements – Decide whether or not employees will be required to wear gloves, masks, etc. when returning to work. If you deem PPE necessary, your state may require you to provide it to your employees.

Cleaning Protocols – Determine what items need to be cleaned and how often. Think about commonly touched surfaces such as coffee pots, doorknobs, copy machines, time clocks, etc.

Health and Safety Considerations

Health Requirements – Will you check your employees’ temperatures daily before they enter the building? What will you do if they have symptoms of COVID-19? Make sure you document all data and keep the information private.

Social Distancing Effort – To keep employees as comfortable as possible, make necessary accommodations to comply with social distancing protocols. Do not require employees to maintain a distance closer than 6 feet if it is not their choice. You can allow employees to spread apart their workstations or provide plexiglass barriers to protect them from airborne spread.

Employee in Contact with Positive Test – The CDC recommends that anyone in contact with a positive COVID-19 patient should stay at home and practice social distancing. Employers should notify everyone there has been a potential for contact so they can self-monitor for symptoms.

Employee Tests Positive – According to the CDC, that employee should self-isolate and follow the CDC recommended steps. Employers must inform their employees of possible exposure to COVID-19. You may not, however, reveal the identity of the employee who tested positive.

Employee Tests Positive

Develop a Response Plan

Staffing Level Changes – Assess the level of productivity achieved after layoffs and furloughs. Adjust your staffing level accordingly

Re-instate vs. Re-hire – Furloughed employees can simply be reinstated. Laid-off employees will need to be re-hired.

Decrease/Increase Wages – Some employees are currently making more money on unemployment benefits than they did when working. It may be necessary to increase wages to encourage them to come back to work.

Refusal to Return to Work – Know your rights as an employer. If you offer a laid-off employee their job back and they refuse, they may no longer be eligible for unemployment.

Re-establish Benefits Level – Will employees that are hired back be eligible for the same health insurance, retirement plan, paid time off plan as before?

Develop a Response Plan

Create Rationale to support Layoffs – Use what you learned to base your rationale on what job duties are still necessary. Some job duties may no longer be necessary.

Determine Severance Payouts – Consider whether WARN or COBRA apply. By state, some employees have a right to severance or paid leave accrual payouts.

Moving Forward

Preparation for Second Wave – If you did not have a business continuity plan before the pandemic, create one now. If you did have a continuity plan, examine what worked and what needs to be improved.

Shelter in Place #2 – You now have a better idea of what positions in your company are essential and which ones are not. If the country is hit with a second shelter in place order, act quickly to transition essential employees back to remote work.

New Essential Employees – Do your essential employees have the technology required for extended remote work. Make accommodations for data storage, cybersecurity protections, and any other reasonable requests.

Renegotiating Contracts – Consider any employment contracts to consider, renegotiate, or terminate. There may be collective bargaining agreements in place that need to be followed.

Moving Forward

Legal Precautions

COVID-19 Worker’s Comp – Employees are still covered for injuries at home under Workers Compensation and OSHA. In some states, if an employee contracts COVID-19, it will be immediately assumed to have been contracted at work. They will be entitled to Worker’s Comp.

OSHA – Negligence – You must be aware of all state requirements. Know your liability, follow guidance and torts for negligence.

Whistleblower Response – Create a response plan if you are accused of not providing the required PPE, requiring non-essential employees to work, or having previous knowledge of known hazards.

Legal Precautions


For more information, replay the Infinit-I Workforce Solutions webinar entitled Navigating the Unknown.

You can download this easy-to-read checklist that will help you keep track of your strategic reopening. Use it for your business or send it to your manager.

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The dawn of the Coronavirus pandemic brought about a shift in behaviors like the country has never seen. The variance from normal created nationwide shutdowns, self-isolating citizens, and a dramatic spike in unemployment rates.

As fear of the unknown spreads across the country, one thing remains the same;

Trucking companies must keep rolling.

Truck drivers hold the responsibility of supplying the world with all its luxuries and, more importantly, basic needs. Most everything we use daily was made available to the consumer because of a truck driver. But now, grocery stores are struggling to keep products on the shelf. Consumers are buying more groceries and household items to comply with quarantine mandates.

Truck drivers are overwhelmed with the task of keeping the supply lines moving despite the ongoing pandemic. In normal operating circumstances, they haul consumer goods from the shipper to the receiver as efficiently as possible.

The COVID-19 National Emergency has created setbacks the country could have never anticipated. The panic buying trend cause truck drivers to work overtime. They have had to figure out how to cover more miles and deliver more product than they could before the pandemic.

The Department of Transportation anticipated the struggle and stepped in to offer relief from a few strict regulations. Drivers are now allowed to operate longer hours, drive with expired licenses, and operate without a valid physical.

Impact of Social Distancing

In addition to the relaxed regulations, drivers have also been enjoying the perks of empty highways and low traffic density. Work Zone activity increased because construction crews can work more efficiently without traffic congestion.

A decrease in the number of accidents/incidents can cause truck drivers to feel a false sense of security. As the public begins to reenter the community from quarantine, traffic volume will begin increasing at a significant pace.

“Don’t let your success of today lay you into complacency for tomorrow. For that is the worst form of failure.” -Og Mandino

More frequent work zone activity, increased traffic, and complacent truck drivers are a recipe for disaster. Even though the regulations are relaxed, trucking companies can still be sued for accidents and incidents. You may have a driver who is legally allowed to operate over hours, but when an incident occurs, your company and your driver will still be held liable.

Defensive strategy

The best thing any trucking company can do for their drivers is to continue their training from rookie to retiree. Most importantly, enrich your safety culture by creating awareness within your workforce. Trucking companies experience a unique challenge in continual education, however, because their fleets are rarely available to gather for safety meetings.

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute conducted a study on whether truck drivers at fault in accidents than passenger cars. Their research concluded that out of 8,309 accidents, the passenger vehicle was at fault 71% of the time.

The study showed that, professional drivers were only at fault in 16% of fatal car/truck crashes. It is evident that trucking companies are defensible in court, even in fatal crashes, because the fault usually lies with the passenger vehicle.

Today’s technology allows you to tackle this problem by delivering training courses online. Drivers can still participate no matter where they are located. In the unfortunate event you end up in court, a plaintiff might ask you about your digital training class. Their stance will be that there is no way to prove participation since the training courses were not administered by an actual person.

Protect your company and your drivers by providing training and assessments that secure their acknowledgement. Test them on their retention whenever possible and always get their signature.

If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen.


Be proactive

Take an assessment of your company and look at areas that need to be strengthened. If you find yourself in court, an attorney will do the same. They will attempt to destroy your company’s credibility by exposing potentials for weakness.

Relaxed DOT regulations mixed with an under-trained workforce could mean the end of your company. A quick internet search returned several articles touting exactly how to sue a trucking company. The information is readily available, trucking companies are an easy target, and the “billboard attorneys” are hungry.

Mark Rhea, a trucking industry expert, describes his experience being involved in defensive litigation for a previous employer.

“Our truck was entering a construction zone. He was following the proper procedures per his training. He checked his mirrors as he was merging to make sure he could safely get in the lane. He looked back to the front and all the cars in front had halted to a stop. We rear ended someone.

In court, the deposition plaintiff’s attorney was loaded with facts and figures. He asked if I knew how many fatalities are caused by trucks ever year. If I knew how many injuries occurred because of big trucks.

Of course, I knew the numbers were up there, but I didn’t know the exact percentages like he had researched. He was trying to diminish my credibility.

Then he began asking about our training program. He was trying to prove we didn’t properly train our drivers. It was very uncomfortable for everyone involved. Fortunately, I was able to provide documentation that our driver had received specific training courses. The wreck was not for oversight or lack of preparation; it was simply an accident.” – Mark Rhea (April 17, 2020)

Trucking Companies – To Do List

As the economy reopens, traffic will resume. Accidents will become more frequent as more drivers are utilizing the roadways. Litigation will resume, if not explode. Do not get a false sense of security while the traffic is low. Prepare your company for legal defense in the following ways:

  • – Encourage open communication
  • – Educate drivers on exemption qualifications
  • – Continue to provide proper training
  • – Document everything

Document everything a driver is provided from the very first day of orientation. Your defense attorney will want to see proof of the driver’s qualifications, CSA scores, training record, etc. Having these documents readily available in court will make you more defensible and solidify your credibility.

The logistics industry is susceptible to court action because of the danger involved in operating tractor trailers. Accidents and incidents are inevitable; relaxed regulations make them more likely. Remember, your company is not released from liability just because a driver qualifies for an emergency declaration waiver.

Even though we are adapting to a national emergency, attorneys will not cut any slack. You can, however, take the necessary steps to make your company more defensible in court.



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Proper Records are Key to Mitigate Risk

The trucking industry can be a risky business. Every business has moving parts, but the moving parts for the trucking industry weigh several tons and are rolling down the road at 60+ mile per hour.

You also have the financial risk that includes millions of dollars in cargo, plus significant health and safety hazards to deal with. These risks can lead to devastating financial losses if you are not careful.

So, how can you manage and mitigate risk associated with your industry? The best answer is improved safety practices and proper documentation.

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A distinction you often hear about in trucking is between accidents and incidents. The distinction is important because prevention and resolution are managed differently for each, and it’s important to learn how to keep associated costs under control. We’re here to help with these 3 tips for improving incident management.

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What are your biggest risks in the trucking business? Apart from road conditions, hazardous freight, and unpredictable passenger vehicles, your biggest risks are financial. How do you make wise choices, mitigate costs, and stay on the black side of your ledger? Discover how the key to risk mitigation is frequent training and documentation.

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If you’re in the trucking business, you definitely want to stay out of the courtroom. But with millions of tons of truck on the road every day, that’s hard to guarantee. Driver training, maintenance, and good management help you mitigate that risk as much as possible. But what are you to do when one of your drivers fails to live up to regulations, and the worst occurs? This is where the Infinit-I Workforce Solutions steps in to protect you and help mitigate legal trucking liability.

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